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Ecuador presidential candidates to face off in debate

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Ecuador presidential candidates to face off in debate

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Photo: Reuters

Ecuador’s two presidential hopefuls will debate tonight in Guayaquil.

Economist Andres Arauz of the left-of-centre Union for Hope party and former banker Guillermo Lasso of the centre-right Creating Opportunities party are vying for the nation’s highest political office. In the first round of voting held last month, which was tainted with allegations of election fraud, Arauz secured 32.72% of the vote to Lasso’s 19.74%.

Economic issues have dominated the campaign. Ecuador has long suffered from economic woes, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated conditions. In December, unemployment hit a record high of 32.7% for people aged 15 to 34.

Arauz is expected to win on April 11, but the margin of his victory could be affected by how well he balances competing political forces at play. A protege of former left-wing populist president Rafael Correa, Arauz will have to mediate between anti-Correa left-wing activists and voters who want Arauz to pursue leftist populist policies, such a social welfare programs. Over half of Ecuador’s eligible voters are between the ages of 18 and 30 and have long been dissatisfied with the status quo, so he is more likely to increase his margin of victory by appealing to younger voters.

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